Image by Gabriele Margapoti
By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Growing a lemon tree is not that difficult. As long as you provide their basic needs, growing lemons can be a very rewarding experience.
How to Grow a Lemon Tree Outdoors
Lemons are the most sensitive to cold than all other citrus trees. Due to this cold sensitivity, lemon trees should be planted near the south side of the home. Lemon trees need protection from frost. Growing them near the house should help with this. Lemon trees also require full sunlight for adequate growth.
While lemon trees can tolerate a range of soils, including poor soil, most prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Lemon trees should be set slightly higher than ground. Therefore, dig a hole somewhat shallower than the length of the root ball. Place the tree in the hole and replace soil, tamping firmly as you go. Water sufficiently and add some mulch to help retain moisture. Lemon trees require deep watering once weekly. If necessary, pruning may be done to maintain their shape and height.
Lemon Tree Growing Indoors
Lemons can make excellent houseplants and will be comfortable in a container as long it provides adequate drainage and room for growth. Heights of around 3-5 feet tall can be expected for a lemon tree growing indoors. They also prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize as needed.
Lemon trees thrive within a normal temperature range of about 70 degrees F. throughout the day and 55 degrees at night. Keep in mind that they will usually go into dormancy when temperatures fall below 55 degrees F.
Lemon trees require lots of light; therefore, they may need to be supplemented with fluorescent grow lights during winter.
Lemon trees can be placed outdoors during warm periods, which is also recommended in order to increase their chances of bearing fruit. When you grow a lemon tree indoors, bees and other insects are unable to pollinate them. Therefore, you should place them outdoors during summer unless you want to complete this task yourself.
Propagating for Lemon Tree Cultivation
Many lemon trees are container-grown, purchased straight from the nursery. However, they can be propagated through cuttings, air layering and seed. The variety usually dictates the best method used; yet, different people see different results using different methods. Therefore, it’s best to find the method that works for you.
The majority find it easier to propagate lemons by rooting large cuttings. While seeds can be used, the seedlings are usually slow to bear.
When choosing to grow from seeds, allow them to dry out for a week or two. Once dried, plant the seeds about an inch deep in good potting soil and cover with clear plastic wrap. Set the pot in a sunny location and wait for it to reach six to twelve inches before transplanting outdoors or to another pot.